SAM Allardyce counted his blessings today as he approached his latest managerial milestone.

On the eve of his 48th birthday and the third anniversary of his arrival at the Reebok, the Wanderers' boss has the security of a long contract and an understanding board.

But he fears for his less fortunate fellow managers as the "sacking season" gets into full swing.

In a week in which Steve Parkin was sacked by Barnsley, following the recent departures of Peter Reid (Sunderland), George Burley (Ipswich), Jan Molby (Hull City), Mark Hinshelwood (Brighton) and John Cornforth (Exeter City), Allardyce has called for more protection for the men in the hottest seats in sport.

"According to figures from the League Managers Association, 55 went last year and October was the worst month with 13 (sackings)," he revealed. "And it looks like it might be the same again."

Allardyce is especially worried that managers are becoming the fall guys at clubs where financial problems are biting hard.

"Steve Parkin had just 11 months in the job," he explained, "riddled with financial problems and crises that were hardly his fault. But he's suffered the consequences.

"It's a great shame for a young, aspiring manager of his capabilities to end up out of work. It's worrying for the state of the game in general."

Although he had a contract, Parkin is now listed as a creditor at Barnsley, who are currently in administration, and may have to fight for compensation.

Allardyce, a member of the LMA committee, says managers should be treated the same way as players in such circumstances. "It's not Steve Parkin's fault that Barnsley are in administration," he pointed out.

"Most sackings these days are down to the financial plight of clubs rather than the managers' deficiencies. So why should they have to be held responsible when their perspective going into a football club is like mine was here - first and foremost to sell your best players, bring as much finance in as you can and after that try and do what you can with the team?"

The Wanderers' boss, three years into a 10 year contract, says the Premier League, Nationwide League and the FA should adopt regulations guaranteeing managers greater security within the terms of their contracts with compensation clauses adhered to.

"We will accept the sack, although you accept it less if you don't deserve it," he conceded, "but the least you ask is that you can walk away from a football club with what you are owed.

"We do bleed when we are cut, we do cry when we are hurt. We are human beings but I think some people think we are not."

Allardyce, sacked by Blackpool on the day he thought he was being rewarded with a new deal, is comforted by the fact that Wanderers have a tradition for giving their managers time. But even he knows contracts can count for nothing when the crunch comes.

"I'm grateful I work at a club that has always shown a lot of stability in the way it treat their managers," he added. "It's nice to have that behind you but whether you've got seven years on your contract or not doesn't really stop people getting rid of you if they really want to.

"It's never been more difficult to do the manager's job than it is now. You put your families to one side and your health at risk. If you have no contract or the comfort of compensation behind you and a club can just go into adminstration, sack you one day and appoint someone else the next, is it worth it?"